Hervé, Charles II

Date and place of birth:
bapt. 28.02.1785, All Hallows, London Wall, London
Date and place of death:
dec. 09.05.1866, 8 Montpelier Place, Brompton, London
(fl) ca. 1803, presumed ca.1835
Known places of work:
Extensively itinerant, England and Scotland
Known techniques:
Presumed cut-work and painting on card. Used 'Physiognotrace machine' to trace sitters' profiles
Known materials:
Presumed paper and card
Presumed papier-mâché


Though consistently listed in McKechnie and elsewhere as CHARLES HERVÉ II (1785-1866), recent research has established no forebear of the name preceded him.

One of 6 related Hervé profilists active to a greater or lesser extent during the first half of the 19th century, Charles Hervé is best known as proprietor and inventor of "Prosopographus The Automaton Artist" which made extensive well-patronised tours of England and Scotland between July 1820 and July 1835. Surprisingly, the quality of his profiles and methods he employed in taking them are unknown, as no signed or trade labelled example has come to light.

In addition, profiles attributed to him from the late 1830s onwards bearing a 145 Strand or 172 and 248 Regent Street address are recorded studios of his sons  Alfred (1812-1879) or Charles Stanley (1809-1897) who, in a January 1893 interview in THE PRACTICAL PHOTOGRAPHER related how he was "...initiated into the art...[of profile taking]...at the early age of sixteen...[owing to his father's]...partial blindness". How the condition impacted Charles Hervé's working life is unknown, though 1841 - 1861 Census enumerators make no mention of sight loss.

Until recently, Hervé family connections were largely speculative, and unfortunately McKechnie's suggestions regarding them in BRITISH SILHOUETTE ARTISTS and their WORK (1978) are comprehensively in error.

Of French Huguenot (Protestant) extraction, their ancestors were settled in London by the beginning of the 18th century. Charles was the 5th of 11 children, 7 sons and 4 daughters, born in London to Margaret née Russel (1753 - 1819) and merchant Peter Daniel Hervé (1752-1796). Four sons survived to adulthood. All became artists. All exhibited multiple portrait miniatures, some of each other, at the Royal Academy.

Of the brothers, Peter Hervé (1779-1827) also founded the still-extant National Benevolent Institute in 1812, and penned a visitor's guide to Paris in 1818. Henry (1783-1853) became a miniaturist and profilist, as did Charles. Primarily a portrait miniaturist, Francis (1787-1851)  wrote and illustrated "A Residence in Greece, Turkey...and the Balkans" (1837) and edited Madame Marie Tussaud's "Memoirs and Reminiscences of the French Revolution" (1838).

Of the following generation, 3 of Charles Hervé's sons: Charles Stanley (1809-1897), Alfred (1812-1879) and Edwin (1816-1882) became miniaturists and profilists, as did Henry Hervé's son Edward Lemont (ca. 1817-after 1851). The broadly bestowed artistry seemingly originated with Charles Hervé's mother Margaret, she being the first family member recorded a Society of Artists and Royal Academy exhibitor between 1783-1800.

In April 1808 Charles Hervé married Catherine Elizabeth Walpole Stanley (1784-1848) at St.Georges Hanover Square, London.  Three sons and 3 daughters were born between 1809-1821.  While one daughter possibly died young, as seen above his sons became artists, and daughters Juliana (1821-1901) and Eliza Agnes (1821-1857) emigrated to Australia in the 1850s.             

Initially recorded in 1806 as C.HERVEY (sic), he exhibited a portrait miniature at the Royal Academy. Further exhibits followed between 1811-1816. As a profilist he is first recorded in 1813 'on the road' with brother Francis (1787-1851) . "Messrs. C. and F. Hervé from London..." advertise in the MANCHESTER MERCURY 16th March, LIVERPOOL MERCURY 28th May and NORFOLK CHRONICLE 20th November. Terms were: "plain black profiles 1s,, with a superior finish 2s 6d". Bronzed profiles were 7s 6d, coloured profiles from half a guinea upwards. Miniature and profile frames were also offered.

In 1816 again 'on the road', now in Edinburgh with elder brother Henry (1783-1853) "Messrs. H. and C. HERVÉ from Cheapside, London..." advertise in the CALEDONIAN MERCURY 16th November that their profile taking "...machine...and specimens...are superior to any yet exhibited".

Research indicates the Hervés had close bonds, as apart from touring in tandem, both Charles and especiallly Francis used brother Henry's 12 Cheapside London studio address for multiple Royal Academy exhibits.. Moreover, it appears Charles Hervé's 'collective' of  'Prosopographus' artists were family members.

Recently discovered in THE SCOTSMAN 27th March 1824, Henry Hervé relates he had  "...since his return to Edinburgh been engaged in painting for...[Prosopographus] the Automaton Artist". Certainly Charles Stanley Hervé and probably his younger brothers honed their profile taking skills working for the enterprise. The quality of 'Prosopographus' cut or painted profiles is variable.It now seems evident finer examples were likely executed  by Henry or Charles Hervé.

After retiring 'Prosopographus' in 1835, how 50-year-old Charles Hevé continued generating income is unknown. The 'Charles Hervé' listed "Miniature Painter and Professor of Music" at 248 Regent Street in KELLYS 1843 directory, is his son Charles Stanley Hervé, a recorded musician.

Charles Hervé's own subsequent history is solely recorded through 1841-1861 census returns and his obituary. The 1841 Census locates him, seemingly in semi-retirement, in Paradise Place, Clapham, as a "fruit grower". The 1851 Census records him in Northumberland Street,  Marylebone with brother Francis who died the same year. Both are listed widowers and "Miniature Painters". The 1861 Census finds him a "Portrait Painter" living at the Wimbledon home of his photographer son, Edwin.

At some point thereafter he resides with son Alfred, at the time a greengrocer of Montpelier Place, Brompton, London, where he died. His obituary, doubtless placed by son Charles Stanley Hervé who lived in the town, appears in the ALDERSHOT MILITARY GAZETTE 12th of May 1866: "At No.8 Montpelier Place, Brompton, on Wednesday May 9th, in his 83rd year, Mr. Charles Hervé, Deeply Regretted".

Revised 8 March 2024 (Brian Wellings)





Additional research about Charles II Hervé:

Source: McKechnie (Author of, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860)

Hervé, Charles II (McKechnie Section 1)
Hervé, Charles II (McKechnie Section 2)
Hervé, Charles II (McKechnie Section 6)

Source: Joll (Hon. Secretary of the Silhouette Collectors Club and Editor of the Club's newsletter)

Hervé, Charles II (SCC Newsletter September 2010)